Motorway to trial congestion-cutting

Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group

Home » Motorway to trial congestion-cutting

Published: 8th November 2016

This Article was Written by: Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group


A £7 million pilot scheme to trial congestion-cutting techniques at the Croft Interchange near Warrington gets underway in November 2016, as a precursor to a larger ‘smart motorway’ project on the M62 to Manchester.

The scheme will combine technologies already in use at different locations around the country into a single strategy to reduce congestion around the M6 J21a and its connection with the M62 J10.

From November 2016, Highways England are working on the first trial phase of the project, which should start to deliver smoother, more reliable journeys along the M62 eastbound carriageway from summer 2017.

Drivers should soon begin to see new information signs erected along the carriageway, including the ability to impose variable mandatory speed limits, and electronic warning signs that can be updated remotely.

Traffic lights will also be added on the link roads from the M6 northbound and southbound carriageways as a way of ‘metering’ the amount of traffic entering the M62 at peak times.

Highways England’s programme delivery manager for the north-west Andy Withington said: “This is an opportunity to combine existing technology and traffic management systems in a novel way to see whether we can give drivers using the frequently congested eastbound M62 lower journey times during peak hours and smoother, more reliable journeys.

“The system should be up and running by next summer and we will be monitoring its use over a period of up to a year. If it is successful – and we believe it will be – it could well be used on other motorway to motorway slip roads across the country.”

Funding for the scheme comes from an innovation fund of £150 million allocated as part of Highways England’s total £15 billion budget under the government’s 2015-2020 Road Investment Strategy.

This particular financing is designed to encourage innovative uses of modern technologies in order to improve journeys on the nation’s road network.

Motorists have already been reassured that the measures will be closely monitored so that, for example, the traffic lights when leaving the M6 do not simply lead to large queues forming on the motorway instead of on the link road or the M62 after joining.

Work will be carried out overnight and in the hard shoulder as much as possible, to avoid the need for lane closures on the M6 or M62, with minimal overnight carriageway closures when this is unavoidable.

The installed technology during this pilot scheme will ultimately be incorporated into a larger construction project due to commence in 2018 and running from Junctions 10-12 on the M62 between Warrington and Manchester.

In an earlier consultation on the proposals, just four responses were received, from St Helens Council, Cheshire Constabulary, Warrington Borough Council and Natural England; however, all were largely in favour of the proposals.

Natural England confirmed that, based on the plans, there is no reason to expect a substantial impact on the surrounding environment.

St Helens Council asked if Highways England would also consider widening the M62 between Junctions 10 and 11, by allowing use of the hard shoulder as an active lane, and by removing the hatched markings that close one lane during Junction 10 itself.

Highways England responded that plans are still being finalised for the larger smart motorway scheme, which will ultimately run between Junctions 10 and 12 of the M62 from Warrington to Manchester.

In the meantime, as the current trial aims to test the technology used specifically, the lane markings and usage are to otherwise remain the same. This will allow for a more accurate assessment of how the traffic signals perform in improving traffic flows and reducing journey times.

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